By Chimezie Anaso
Oba – A socio-cultural organisation, Ogilisi Foundation, has urged Gov. Willie Obiano to tackle the rising cases of insecurity in Anambra, especially the commercial town of Onitsha.
The foundation made the appeal when it hosted the management of Anambra Vigilante Service (AVS) at the Rojenny Tourists Centre, Oba, Idemili South Local Government Council area on Sunday.
The AVS management was led to the event by its Chairman and Special Adviser to Gov. Willie Obiano on Vigilante Matters, Chief Ikechukwu Aduba, a retired Commissioner of Police.
The group said that criminals were back in Onitsha and were operating as syndicates and called on the governor to urgently address the situation before it becomes a nightmare for travellers and residents.
Speaking at a brainstorming session, Mr Anthony Ogbugo, the Leader of Ogilisi Youths, said that though high profile armed robbery and kidnapping were not common, the rate of small crimes in the area was high.
Ogbugo, who is the Chairman of Drivers’ Welfare in the state, said that 70 per cent of the crimes were carried out in the motor parks.
He said there were some drivers who specialised on arms smuggling and conveyance of armed robbers to operations, adding they were ready to work as volunteers with the AVS if their safety was assured.
“I have worked in the transport sector in Onitsha for a long time and with my experience I can tell you that 70 per cent of crimes in Onitsha happen in or through the motor parks.
“The uncoordinated nature of parks in Onitsha has made the place a good ground for criminals.
“As I am talking to you, small crimes take place every time of the day, those snatching phone have unions with branches like Iweka, Ibolo and Tarzan branches and those called floating.
“Some operate with wheelbarrows, others with commercial motorcycles otherwise known as `Okada, we know them and how they operate but we are afraid to give out this information because most times they come back to us as soon they are arrested and become threats,’’ he said’.
Another speaker, Nwabueze Nwoke, said these criminals operated brazenly in the day light and most times under the watch of security agents who do not interfere.
Nwoke said they had a strong association that when anyone was caught they turn their victims to suspects and over power the people around.
“They have very strong unions, one day I heard one accusing the other of not joining them and threatened not to help rescue him again when next he was caught.
“These things are done in the open at the parks, bus stops and even where the police people are close, they do not look in the victim’s way,’’ he said.
In his remark, Chief Rommy Ezeonwuka, Chairman of the Foundation, said that it was an irony that Anambra that was adjudged the safest state in Nigeria is under this level of siege.
Ezeonwuka said other crimes, include collection of illegal tolls that had been abolished by the governor from traders and their customers by touts for private pockets.
He said there were so many toll tickets flying around in Onitsha, adding that it was discouraging business and visitors.
The foundation’s chairman said he was confident that Aduba, the new AVS boss with his wealth of experience will sanitise the state through effective grassroots policing.
He said the session was timely as the Yuletide was around the corner and that the situation needed to be examined dispassionately to evolve the best solution.
Ezeonwuka said the foundation was ready to work with AVS with the best information that could lead to creating a security atmosphere that would build the confidence of travellers this season.
Responding, Aduba said they were aware of the situation but not to the extent it had been narrated.
He said there would be no hiding place for criminals of any sort in Onitsha or anywhere in Anambra, adding that Obiano was worried by the reports.
He promised to employ robust community policing and interface with the police and other security agencies in the state on the best ways to tackle the situation.
“We shall work out a special team for grassroots crime fighting, we shall not spare criminals.
“I have served the country ensuring security in many states until recently, including Delta where I retired, I will not do less in Anambra where I come from, I shall ensure that the desire of our governor on security is achieved.
“I want to thank the Ogilisi Foundation for this meeting, we are ready to work with you because crime fighting is everybody’s business,’’ he said.